REEKS! The smell has been compared to a very strong garlic and/or sulfur. I have tried many “natural pesticide potions” in the past without great success. Desperate to save my Basil from being chewed by something other than me – I made a conscience decision to expose my delicate ol’factory system to pure STINK – all in the name of saving my plants.
A little history on Neem Oil and its uses. Neem Oil comes from a tree called “Azadirachta Indica”, a large evergreen tree related to mahogany. The tree is grown in tropical climates native to South East Asia, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar. I was first exposed to Neem Oil during my studies in Ayurveda medicine while at Kanyakumari Ayurveda and Wellness Center near Milwaukee and in India.
I learned that while its leaves, seeds and bark have been used for many centuries to treat such ailments such as diabetes, pink eye, mouth ulcers, psoriasis, eczema, warts and moles; it is also a wonderful natural fungicide and insecticide. If I was a bug, the mere smell would keep me away; however, it is more scientific than that.
Basically, Neem contains a component called Azadirachtin that reduces the insects ability to feed, acts as a repellent, and that it interferes with insect hormone systems ~ in essence, a contraceptive for insects ~ though practically non-toxic to mammals, birds, and the humble pollinators found in nature. Neem can be used against pests like spider mites, black spots on roses, powdery mild (such as that growing on my bee balm), aphids and rust. It can also be used against fleas and mange on dogs – but that is for another time.
I mixed 1 teaspoon Neem oil into a 1gallon of water, poured the mixture into a repurposed spray bottle and whoo hoo – bug spray. Armed with spray bottle in hand, I stepped out into the heat. Even diluted, the smell nearly keeled me over. My plants were shivering from fear – now what? I laid my hand upon them, assuring the Basil that this was hurting me more than them (sound familiar to anyone?). Beads of the concoction landed upon the leaves and bugs scattered. With excitement, I moved on to the tomatoes, the geraniums, then the mums ~ oh, the possibilities were endless…alas, I ran out of spray. Now all I could do is wait.
Two days later, I checked on my little friends ~ not only were there no bugs feasting (those darn Japanese beetles), but the leaves were growing back healthy. Once again, nature has proven to me that all one requires to protect, fight, or heal – exists within the natural world around us.